Hearthstone Historic House Museum has been shining brightly since 1986. The story in history is well known. On September 30, 1882 the home of Henry and Cremora Rogers, now called Hearthstone, became the first residence in the world to be lit by hydroelectricity using a central Edison system and the type of lighting we still use today. The home was lit, along with two paper mills, only three weeks after the first central station was powered up by Thomas Edison himself in New York City to light commercial buildings. Critically, Hearthstone is the very last building still standing from this dawn of the electrical age, a pivotal moment in history that has arguably had one of the most profound impacts on American life. In recognition of this unique moment in history, Hearthstone is listed on the state and national historic registers for its technological and artistic significance.
Hearthstone Historic House Museum, owned and operated by Friends of Hearthstone, Inc., a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, has been at the forefront of preservation and interpretation of the technology, history, art, culture, architecture, and innovation of this important period. The museum's mission to preserve and interpret this unique intersection means Hearthstone is making a tangible, meaningful impact on not only those who visit, but on the communities that surround it.
The interiors of Hearthstone are breathtaking. Every space occupied by the Rogers family has been painstakingly restored to the highest standards as mandated by Wisconsin Historical Society and the National Park Service of the Department of the Interior. Restorations executed over the past three years include the 1882 kitchen, second level floors, and the 1882 second floor bath.
In addition to its function as a historic house museum, Hearthstone spearheads educational programming with other institutions. Among these efforts is a successful STEM education program called STEMIE, in conjunction with Wisconsin School Districts and the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation in Dearborn, Michigan. The new program provides free, open source K-12 curricula to schools. Programming will expand to all school districts across Wisconsin within two years. Hearthstone works with area universities to offer public history practicums and history internships. We are also working with the Fox River Navigational System Authority to offer collaborative programming as a historical entity on this waterway.
Exterior Restoration Project and the Historic Structures Report
Friends of Hearthstone is now undertaking the complete restoration of the exterior of its Queen Ann style residence as the final phase of the implementation of the Historic Structures Report completed by Engberg-Anderson in August, 2010. The exterior has seen wear and tear over the years and is now in need of attention. While Hearthstone has been well maintained, it is apparent that without immediately completing this final phase, both the exterior integrity of the structure and its priceless contents could be jeopardized. Friends of Hearthstone is initiating a top-down approach, one that complies with all federal, state, and local mandates, by working with select artisans and contractors who specialize historic work.